A major recruitment campaign to encourage British people to provide seasonal labour amid the coronavirus outbreak will ‘open up’ opportunities for a future in agriculture, growers have said.
The nation-wide initiative comes after shortfalls in migrant labour prompted farm groups to call on a ‘land army of employees’ to support the industry picking fruit and vegetables.
Beverley Dickson, HR director at G’s, a national salad producer, said the launch of its ‘Feed Our Nation’ campaign (March 24) had received a ‘tremendous’ amount of public interest and highlighted the diversity of jobs available.
She said: “There are lots of great opportunities for people who may have never thought about agriculture as a career opportunity.
“We are calling on British workers to help harvest crops in the summer months but we are offering jobs in lots of different roles alongside pickers, including team leaders, pack house jobs, bus drivers – there is so much variety.”
The campaign follows moves by labour specialist HOPS and has also seen the fresh fruit sector, including Scottish soft fruit supplier Angus growers and British Summer Fruits collaborate in a bid to attract more than 3,000 Scottish workers to pick berries on-farm.
Anticipating a shortfall of about 80 per cent of the required workforce, NFU Scotland (NFUS) horticulture committee chairman James Porter claimed the new initiative would create jobs for those affected by the pandemic, adding: “I know many people are facing redundancy across the travel and hospitality industries and I would therefore encourage anyone who is looking for work to visit our new dedicated recruitment site and apply.”
NFUS has also followed suit by allowing farmers to advertise positions to those within the Scottish workforce who have found themselves out of work due to the outbreak, via a recruitment portal.
Mr Porter called for collaboration across the sector.
“We have launched our recruitment drive for our berry growers, however we are also looking at how the wider food supply industry can work together to ensure the continued supply of high quality food," he said.
“I would encourage anyone working in the food supply industry to please reach out to me to ensure we all work together for the good of the nation.”